However, I didn’t correlate Finland with amethysts. Yes, amethysts, those lovely purple gems. Be honest, did you?
I am all about quirky and unique (dare I say weird?) local experiences when traveling, something Finland has in abundance. So when I heard that you can visit an amethyst mine in winter in Lapland, I put it on the list. This would be interesting! I put on my long underwear, bundled up and was off.
Turns out, visiting the Lampivaara Amethyst Mine was one of my favorite days in Finland. Random, I know. Who would have thought?
Tucked away on top of a fell (a big hill – Finland doesn’t really do mountains) smack in the middle of Pyhä-Luosto National Park near Luosto.
Just roll with me on the pronunciations, guys. Honestly, I tried to say things correctly when I was in Finland, but it’s actually the hardest language ever. I’d give it a crack, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to admit defeat.
Right, so back to Lampivaara in Pyhä near Luosto. Remember that, they’ll be a spelling test at the end. Lampivaara is a sustainable amethyst in Lapland that’s open to visitors.
Lapland in March is almost always a winter wonderland, and it’s a great time to visit because the long dark winter is almost over and there’s normal daylight hours and it’s not too cold. At the base of the fell and the beginning of the mine, there’s a cozy little cafe with delicious local donuts and crappy coffee you can warm up in before you’ll catch a purple snowcat which will bring you through the forest uphill. The Finns call it a Pendolino, which sounds exotic and exciting.
As you chug your way uphill in the pendolino snowcat, you’ll notice the altitude difference with the snow levels. You’re definitely up higher.
Suddenly the snow-covered trees turn into snow statues, tipping over under the heavy weight of the snow like some kind of Dr. Seuss creature. I call them snow trees because they are what appear to be trees of snow, with nay a branch nor leaf visible.
It was one of those white overcast days snowing intermittently that really set the mood. Why yes, I am not in Virginia anymore. Definitely the Arctic. It was so peaceful and quiet with just the sound of the wind; it really felt like I had stepped into a different world. It was unlike any place I’ve ever been – and you know me, I’ve been a lot of places.
So much snow. I was now in a world of white and black and my bright red jacket.
And buried under snow was this tiny little wooden cabin, exactly what you might picture. And standing in the doorway was a viking. I mean, a tall Finnish man, welcoming us to Lampivaara with hot berry juice. Because of course.
In their beautiful singsong English, they told us the stories and history of the mine, and their emphasis on sustainable mining for gemstones, not something I imagine you hear at most gem mines around the world, if you are even allowed in at all.
But enough talking, time to go see for ourselves.
Ducking down through a classic wooden stairwell, we entered another world as we made our way towards the mine. Trudging over dusty broken stones, we were handled a chisel-like tool and told to have fun, sifting and chipping through the rock hoping for a glimpse of purple.
While I can see this as an appealing family travel activity, I can also vouch for being fun for adults. Obviously I had to do better than everyone else and got properly dirty digging around for the biggest amethyst I could find.
Though I suppose I might have done better if I had actually paid attention to what made the stones stand out besides being purple.
And as luck would have it, with a little help from the locals, we managed to dig up a properly sized amethyst, almost as big as my tiny hands. They were almost as surprised as I was to find it buried in the frozen earth, and promised it was not something they found all that often. I was even more surprised when they let me keep it!
Lampivaara was an awesome introduction to Finnish Lapland. It shared the history of a unique place in a sustainable way and offered some of the best scenery around Luosto. Random by memorable, my favorite way to travel.
Have you ever been to a gem mine or seen snow trees like this? Are you a fan of unique experiences like this when traveling? Is Finland on your list?